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Madonna. Sarah Jessica Parker. Lindsay Lohan. Jessica Simpson. Jennifer Lopez. Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen. Sean Diddy Combs. Justin Timberlake. Beyonce Knowles. Britney Spears. The list goes on and on.

How many of our most popular young — and not so young — celebrities are also talented clothing designers?

It’s uncanny. It’s outrageous. It’s…Liza Minnelli?


Now I bet you’re expecting me to come down hard on these celebrities for cashing in on their popularity and sticking their names on clothing lines they (let’s be honest) have very little involvement in other than some modeling and personal appearances (and collecting their paycheck).

But I won’t. I don’t see much difference between this and true designers taking credit for the work of their design staff. (We won’t name names)

Most people understand that brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Halston, and Balenciaga are designed by others. They have to be: these designers have been dead for years.


At this point — when most clothes are made in the far East regardless of brand — does it matter whose name is on the label if you like the clothes? And if you don’t like them, are you going to buy them just because Beyonce is on the tag? (I guess that’s what manufacturers are hoping.)

When did this start, exactly? I know Esther Williams endorsed Cole bathing suits back in the 40’s and later started her own bathing suit company. But that sort of made sense, right? She spent a lot of time swimming.


And people can be multi-talented and have multiple careers. Tony Curtis was also a painter; Ginger Rogers liked to sculpt; Phyllis Diller has her own brand of canned chili. (That’s not a joke; I’ve tried it.)


But singer Jessica Simpson has an entire clothing line: shoes, dresses, intimate apparel, luggage, you name it. She is big business Perhaps busy Jessica does have some creative control, but not even prolific Karl Largerfeld could design the amount of stuff she’s offering in her collection.

Then there are people like Kathy Ireland and Jaclyn Smith. These two women are powerhouse brands unto themselves — clothes, home collections, wigs, make up. It’s mind boggling.

Fashion is a crowded world and a celebrity name obviously helps move the merchandise. But it’s only going to fly if the clothes work, right? And it’s going to have to be competitively priced, especially today. Shoppers are pretty savvy and have a lot of options, after all.


Readers, what’s your take? Would you seek out Britney’s shoes or Jessica Simpson’s because you like the singer behind it or her personal style?

Does the celebrity fashion designer thing annoy you?

Are celebrity fashion designers good for fashion or bad — or just (cynical) business as usual?

Your thoughts, please!


When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”


  • Fb2227aaf242c0d041dbcd583baae4e4ccfba73d_large

    Apr 16, 2011, 08.55 AMby loulourosa

    What I tried to say before in this discussion is this: Don’t get too enoyed by these “celebrity designers”, this is something that excists,… It has nothing to do with fashion. They are not taken seriously by the fashion editors of leading fashion magazines like vogue. People who work for these labels are aware of what they are doing, this is their own choise. If you want to be a fashion designer in the real sense of the word, you will have to work very hard, develop your own style, invest in research,…, but you will get more in return than those people who are just putting their name on al label. My husband is a visual artist, he works very hard to get recognition, and after al these years of hard work he is finaly at a point where people that matter in the artworld are supporting him. It would have been a lot easier if he was making art that is more commercial (and maybe we would have been rich by now), but I know he would not feel good at all,…

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 16, 2011, 04.54 PMby Peter Lappin

      I totally agree. Sounds like a great guy too!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 09.39 PMby Beno

    It used to be cool when Nelly did the Apple bottom jeans for full figured women, Sean Combs catering for the hip-hop cats and the Olsen twins doing the ‘bohemian chick’ style or whatever. It is now over rated as these stars are in it for the money and not passion. You even find that their products are all the same now and the only thing that differentiates one ‘designer’ from the other is the label. There is no longer creativity nor uniqueness. Besides, what happened to specialising? How can you do everything at once? For instance, Diddy / P. Diddy / Puffy / Sean Combs etc has a clothing line, a perfume range, record label, TV show, the list goes on. Should we expect that his clothing is as good that of a person who is 120% committed? Mind that I said HIS not his employees’ dedications because I am goanna come with the intension of buying his product not the person in the background’s product.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 11.47 PMby Peter Lappin

      Not a pretty situation. ;)

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    Apr 15, 2011, 08.17 PMby laha5822

    I’m an engineer by day and I sometimes am a little bothered to hear that my alma mater has given an “honorary doctorate” to someone without an engineering background. There’s a lot of work that traditionally goes into an engineering degree and a lot more that goes into a doctorate, so whenever I see someone “honored” with a degree I always feel a little slighted that I had to pay for mine. In that same regard, when I see another “celebrity line” of clothing, perfume, etc, I think back to my first sewing experiences and fashion faux pas and how I developed a sense of style, and get a little annoyed that someone can skip all of that and jump straight to the reward. I get that it’s business, it just bugs me a bit how everything in our society is so fake. I hope it doesn’t get to the point where nobody even remembers what real looks or feels like!

    2 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 08.43 PMby Peter Lappin

      Yes indeed. But I think people recognize authenticity too, even if they can’t quite find the word for it.

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      Apr 16, 2011, 03.50 AMby mswift34

      You nailed it. That is exactly why celebrity fashion “designers” are so annoying.

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    Apr 15, 2011, 05.54 PMby loulourosa

    Haha, those celebrity fashion designers! A very clever marketing strategy this is. They don’t even dress themselves! They have stylists who put everything together. So how can people be so stupid to believe that those celebrities are able to create clothing,… Everybody who has been nearby the creative proces of fashiondesign knows what a hard job this is. It is very clever of all those brands to put a celeb name on their label. Most of the time, the clothes that are sold this way, have no value at all. It’s the same kind of people who buy these clothes, that would also buy t-shirts with designer names printed on it,… And I think that people who buy real designer clothes, and who have an eye for quality and creativity, can’t be fooled by those cheap tricks.

    3 Replies
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 07.13 PMby Peter Lappin

      Why are these people celebrities again…? ;)

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      Apr 15, 2011, 07.46 PMby midget

      I ( hope) don’t think people believe that celebs design these clothes themselves. In my experience, they know that the clothing, perfume is put together by others. You are right – it is the celebs brand that they are buying. In my experience there are many many people who also buy “real” designer products Purely on the brand value and not the quality of the garments or any respect for the designers hard work. Identity and belonging are huge buying motivations for consumers. It would be naive to think that successful " real" designers are not capitalizing on this in someways themselves.

    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 08.46 PMby Peter Lappin

      Midget, you’re right about that. I think it irks people who do recognize the difference, though, and resent the constant celebrity shilling. Personally, I’m all celebrity-ed out.

      Great to hear your perspective!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 05.39 PMby amandaloschiavo

    I can only think of one celebrity designer that is worth while – Gwen Stefani for Lamb. If youre a die hard Gwen Stefani fan, you’d know that when Gwen was in her teens and just starting out she’d love to sew up her own outfits for the gigs she’d be in, and has a geniune passion “purposely not too look like everyone else growing up in highschool”. She doesn’t just put her name on anything.. Although I dont know where the clothes actually get made up, the story of gwen is quite insprining. Any thing else like britney spears.. is just abit fake and a cash out.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 05.50 PMby Peter Lappin

      …from your wallet to hers! LOL.

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    Apr 15, 2011, 05.20 PMby StitchayWoman

    My hunch is that people who are even taking the time to consider this question are probably thoughtful enough to be able to tell how cynical any given “celebrity line” is. I doubt Britney is putting together any mood boards before meeting with the Candies execs (mood: jailbait) but if it’s a more focused type of venture with a popular artist…could be for real. It’s usually pretty easy to sniff out cynicism.

    1 Reply
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    Apr 15, 2011, 03.38 PMby Eric Farr

    It annoys me as well, Ruby. On one occasion on MTV, I happened to have watched a documentary type of show chronicling Jennifer Lopez launching her “Sweetface” line. Now, I went to school for design for a short time but personal issues got in the way. Anyway, she was going on about how she comes up with her designs and how she picks the things that will be put together and they showed a design team of about 5 or 6 designers coming in with sketches and sketch pads. The designers laid their sketches on the huge table and all she did was walk around and point. It didn’t matter who did what, if it worked she picked it. The only input was about color and sleeve length. Surprisingly, I got annoyed, because she really didn’t do much of anything and she calls herself a designer. Sean Combs kinda does the same thing, yet those that are actual designers are struggling and trying to showcase their art, but with no finances to make it happen.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 03.51 PMby Peter Lappin

      Yes, Eric, exactly. Which isn’t to say that a singer couldn’t be a true dress designer in theory…just that J-Lo is not one.

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    Apr 15, 2011, 03.23 PMby bodicegoddess589

    Honestly, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to who’s on the label. Sounds bad, but when you’re shopping at Target, Penney’s and Kohl’s, the labels don’t really mean much anyway. I look for good quality pieces and a good price. I took a year off of buying clothes in 2010, and spending a year making or upcycling my clothes has helped me become a more discerning shopper as well. I know what kind of wear the piece will get, and I know how to buy and tailor as needed. And if I’m personalizing the piece, it doesn’t matter if it’s Mossimo or Maurice’s – at the end of the day it’s MINE and it’s how I wear it and how I pair it that matters.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 03.50 PMby Peter Lappin

      Great point. From a customer’s perspective, it’s all a matter of whether you like it or not.

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    Apr 15, 2011, 03.16 PMby atrinka

    Peter: I just read this article, same view from Donatella Versace http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/14/us-versace-idUSTRE73D6OI20110414

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 03.48 PMby Peter Lappin

      Interesting — thanks for the link!

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    Apr 15, 2011, 03.07 PMby shel11238

    The argument of YSL, Dior, and Balenciaga etc is on par with Jaclyn Smith, Kate Moss, & Jessica Simpson is something I can not get past. To begin with no one is crediting Cristobal for designs that Nicolas Ghesquiere creates. Rather it is considered Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere. Ditto for Dior, no one considers it Dior’s designs but rather Galliano for Dior. The problem with celeb designer’s like Smith, Simpson, Moss et all is that there is a “design” team who goes to the stores pick up other people’s designs and send those designs over seas to be made and have their names sewn into the back. Not only does the celebrity not design them but the people they pay do not design them. So yeah it works because they are making something real designers made at a one time wear price. Celebrity fashion lines are the corner girls on Cherry Street making a quick easy buck.

    As for Justin line it’s William Rast (his bff is the designer).

    As for Gwen Stafani…it is well know she is a major knock-you-offer-there is a thing with her and Japan, a while back her line reeked of Galliano (which made it funny she tried to sue Forever 21)

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 03.47 PMby Peter Lappin

      Shel, great dish! Very interesting comment, thanks.

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    Apr 15, 2011, 02.19 PMby atrinka

    I don’t like when you see these celebs talking about the creative process… The same happens everywhere, don’t you think? someone else gets all the credit (think of the ballerina asking for her credits in this new movie about a swan). Keep writing Peter! I looove you!

    1 Reply
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    Apr 15, 2011, 01.39 PMby echo-louise-2008

    personally I agree. I’d be interested to see how people feel about someone like Kate Moss “designing” for topshop?

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Apr 15, 2011, 02.21 PMby Peter Lappin

      At LEAST she’s in the fashion industry! It’s all about marketing, ultimately. It’s easier to market Kate Moss than some person whose name you’ve never heard of (even if the clothes from the latter are superior).

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